With seven Academy Award nominations for the groundbreaking global hit “Black Panther,” including best picture, Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige had much to celebrate Tuesday morning, including his own first Oscar nod as producer.
He described the “gratifying” accolades, a rarity for any film in the superhero genre, and cheered director Ryan Coogler’s vision of Wakanda as an example of the kind of compelling voices he hopes Hollywood seeks to empower in the near future.
“Black Panther” breaking through the academy’s gilded ceiling is historic to so many people for several reasons. How does it feel to you?
I’m humbled, and I’m proud of this amazing cast, this amazing crew, and most of all Ryan Coogler, who had something to say. He had a vision and personal questions he’d been dealing with his whole life that he decided to use this film and this story as his canvas to tell. That the world has responded, and the academy has responded, is incredible.
When we look at that and the importance of the academy recognizing this, what’s so wonderful about it — and by the way, the other films that have been nominated for best picture this year — [is] the importance of telling different kinds of stories. The importance of telling the kinds of stories that haven’t been told before.
Do you agree with the folks who think Coogler deserved a directing nomination?
Well, the “Black Panther” film is Ryan Coogler. Speaking with him this morning, he was ecstatic that so many members of his crew were recognized, and the recognition of the picture overall is a celebration of every single person who worked so hard on the movie and brought it to life, and that’s the kind of guy he is.
That seems very Ryan Coogler.
Do you see the critical, commercial and popular success of “Black Panther” as a clarion call for your peers in the industry to invest more in stories that center underrepresented voices?
I certainly hope so. That would be the absolute best thing to take away from the impact this film has had, and it certainly is for us. We tell different kinds of stories, we find people who haven’t had the chance to tell their stories before. We have audiences that haven’t seen themselves reflected on that screen, and most importantly, [to] have someone like Ryan Coogler put it all together in an amazing film that all types of people can respond to, that’s important. And that is the line going forward: Have lots of different types of people be able to tell lots of different types of stories.
Fans of genre film and superhero cinema have long hoped to see these kinds of movies recognized at the Oscars. Does this feel like a game changer for Marvel, or for the work you’ve been doing in this space?
It just feels gratifying. There’s a sense of pride for the recognition, and for Ryan and the entire team, for all of our crew who worked so hard on the movie. That’s as far as we’re looking right now. That this film and this moment is being recognized for what it has done and what Ryan has achieved is the best part of this morning.